I consider BuzzFeed Politics to be one of the most influential websites at setting the narrative in the blogosphere, and to some extent the more mainstream media.
That influence only is going to grow due to the well-funded Buzzfeed brand, which just raised $19 million in additional funding, and a group of talented people led by Ben Smith. You don’t need to like what or how they do it, but please don’t deny that they are very good at what they do.
BuzzFeed Politics manages to integrate the culture and the politics in a way no conservative website does, all under the umbrella of a news operation with a White House correspondent and reporters who follow candidates on the trail.
To understand how important BuzzFeed Politics is to BuzzFeed, look at the homepage today, which highlights the Marco Rubio interview (more on that below). Note that the Politics link in the navbar is in the prime far left position:
No one who followed BuzzFeed Politics during the election cycle could have any doubt who they wanted to win. There’s nothing wrong with that; I only object to media bias when it’s denied and not transparent. I don’t think BuzzFeed Politics was transparent in that regard.
My sense of the BuzzFeed Politics formula is: “Look at the goofy cat, look at the goofy celeb, look at the goofy Republican.” It’s very effective, relatively subtle, and very dangerous to us.
Ben Smith’s interview with Marco Rubio is a good example of how BuzzFeed Politics combines straight reporting with the culture. Right off the bat Rubio is asked about rappers, a topic in which he was fluent unlike almost everyone else on our side of the aisle.
Rubio has been criticized for allowing himself to be marginalized in the interview on the rapper and other issues; it’s kind of a “Hey Marco, they’re laughing at you, not with you” type analysis.
I’m not so sure about that. You certainly could make the case that as much as we may not relate to “the culture,” we need to because there are plenty of younger voters who relate to “the culture” but also inherently are drawn to conservative economic ideas. I thought Rubio excelled in the interview on substance and style.
Yet, when you see how BuzzFeed Politics played the interview, I tend to go with the “laughing at you” analysis:
The integration of the culture and the politics is a topic we’ll be exploring.